Quinault (American Indians Ready Reference)
The name Quinault (sometimes spelled Quinaielt) is derived from kwi’ nail, the name of their largest settlement, located at the site of the present-day village of Taholah at the mouth of the Quinault River. The Quinault are one of several tribes referred to as Southwestern Coast Salish. Traditionally, the Quinault were primarily fishers and hunters and, to a lesser extent, gatherers. Salmon was the basic staple. The Quinault were excellent canoemen, and in their large oceangoing canoes, they were the southernmost coastal tribe to hunt whales.
The Quinault lived in large houses, holding from two to ten families, in about twenty villages. Social class was divided into slave and free, with free divided into nobility and commoners. Nobility consisted of those with inherited status and wealth. The Quinault extensively traded and intermarried with neighboring tribes, and these regional networks also contributed to status. Commoners lacked these perquisites. Slaves were obtained in raids or in trades.
The village leader or chief was chosen by village members from among those males with enough wealth to ensure that some of that wealth could be distributed to others at potlatches. The potlatch in turn served to enhance the leader's prestige. The leader advised and mediated disputes but otherwise had no prescribed powers.
Religion focused on acquisition of guardian spirits, which were necessary for a successful life. Particular...
(The entire section is 428 words.)
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